A global internet puzzle that requires advanced computer skills to solve has reopened online.
It is the third year running that the mysterious Cicada 3301 has appeared, with no clues as to who is behind the puzzle.
Some believe it is a recruitment process for a government spy agency, while others believe it could be the work of a bank.
The puzzle takes people on a treasure trail around the so-called dark net.
This year’s competition was announced via a Twitter account to which was attached an image file with the following message: “Hello. Epiphany is upon you. Your pilgrimage has begun. Enlightenment awaits. Good luck. 3301.”
Thousands of fans have been drawn into the competition and have eagerly awaited its relaunch.
This year’s iteration already appears to be fiendishly difficult, requiring understanding of OutGuess, a complex steganography tool.
Steganography hides data inside images, and is often used for nefarious purposes by terrorists and paedophiles.Anglo-Saxon runes
Computer scientist Prof Alan Woodward is one of those who has previously taken part in the competition.
“The puzzles are very complicated and require knowledge of steganography, cryptography as well as obscure existential texts,” he told the BBC.
Previous competitions have taken people on both a mental and physical journey, encompassing cyber-punk literature, Anglo-Saxon runes and the work of occultist and magician Aleister Crowley.
Last year, part of the treasure trail also required people to travel to physical locations to decode QR codes posted on telegraph poles dotted around the US.
Now that the competition is widely known about there has been a spate of fakes but for those with the necessary knowledge it is easy to spot the real thing.
“The group uses a PGP signature and put up a key signed with this,” explained Prof Woodward.
Speculation about who is behind the puzzle has been gaining momentum as the competition attracts more publicity.
“It could be a criminal organisation looking for recruits or it could be a start-up looking to set up a new crypto-currency, possibly even a bank,” said Prof Woodward.
“Lots of people think it could be a government agency and that looks reasonably likely as whoever is being recruited isn’t telling anybody afterwards,” he added.
The Latest on: Steganography
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The Latest on: Steganography
- Security Enhancement : Combining Cryptography and Steganographyon January 19, 2020 at 6:01 pm
In either case, message sender or receiver has to pay the price. To avoid these undesirable acts, Steganography and cryptography are used together to ensure security of the covert and secure message.
- Data Security with Image Clustering using Steganographyon January 19, 2020 at 12:02 pm
Steganography is art of invisible communication. It strives to hide the existence of communicated message in appropriate medium i.e. image, audio or video. So as not to arouse an eavesdropper's ...
- Shakespeare In A Zip In A RAR, Hidden In An Image On Twitteron January 14, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Steganography involves hiding data in something else — for example, encoding data in a picture. [David Buchanan] used polyglot files not to hide data, but to send a large amount of data in a sin ...
- Attackers Invent New Evasion Techniques to Conceal Web Skimmer Activityon January 6, 2020 at 9:26 am
As reported by Malwarebytes, a security researcher disclosed the first publicly documented payment card web skimmer to ever use steganography on Dec. 26, 2019. They found that the skimmer used ...
- New Magecart skimmers practice steganography, data transfer via WebSocketon January 3, 2020 at 4:06 pm
A researcher has discovered a pair of new Magecart-style web skimmers, each one featuring an evasion technique that’s not typically employed by this breed of malware: steganography and the transfer a ...
- New Magecart skimmers practice steganography, data transfer via WebSocketon January 3, 2020 at 2:07 pm
A researcher has discovered a pair of new Magecart-style web skimmers, each one featuring an evasion technique that’s not typically employed by this breed of malware: steganography and the ...
- New cryptomining malware uses WAV audio files to conceal its trackson October 17, 2019 at 4:02 am
This technique of obfuscating malicious code in plain sight — a method called steganography — was uncovered by BlackBerry’s cybersecurity subsidiary Cylance. “When played, some of the WAV ...
- Steganography meets VoIP in hacker worldon September 13, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Techniques that fall under the category of VoIP steganography have been discussed in academic circles for a few years, but now more chatter is coming from the hacker community about creating easy ...
- PLATINUM Hacking Group Returns, Using Steganography to Fly Under Security Radaron June 5, 2019 at 3:12 pm
For their activity to remain unseen for such a long time, the group encoded information using a technique called steganography. Security researchers have long warned about the dangers of ...
- social steganographyon February 26, 2019 at 3:23 am
See steganography. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction requires permission.
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